Felipe Massa, Williams, Albert Park, 2015

Hamilton says F1 needs more cars as 15 start first race

2015 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Felipe Massa, Williams, Albert Park, 2015Lewis Hamilton agrees F1 needs more competitors after the season-opening race began with just 15 cars on the grid.

With Manor unable to run at all during the weekend only 18 cars qualified for the race. A back injury kept Valtteri Bottas from starting and two more cars broke down on their reconnaissance laps before the start.

That left 15 cars on the grid, the smallest number for a season-opener since 1958, when a record low of ten was established at the first race of the year in Argentina.

Last year 22 drivers qualified for the first race of the year, and Hamilton said the difference in the size of the field was noticeable. “I don’t know how it is for the spectators but of course we should have more cars,” he said.

“When we drive up to the back of the grid, before the formation lap, it’s a real long way from the last corner to the back of the grid. It used to be a little bit shorter run when there’s more cars.

“It would be great if we could get some more cars.”

Hamilton added he would always try to race in spite of injury if he was able to. “In Moto GP, those guys are pretty hardcore,” he said. “They drive with collarbones broken, ankles and all those kind of things. I would still hopefully drive if I had something damaged.”

Sebastian Vettel agreed it was “strange to see people struggling to do the laps to the grid”.

“I think it shows how complex it really is, how difficult it is to master the challenge of making the car reliable for a grand prix and for the entire season so that’s why you really have to say ‘chapeau’ to these guys and everyone who is able to extract clean races.”

He also praised Honda for making their return to Formula One with McLaren, even though only one of their cars started the race.

“It’s great to see that this year we have a new competitor in the game with Honda,” said Vettel. “I think they have been very brave to face that challenge, even though now the price they’re paying is very high, but I’m sure they will come back.”

“I think everyone has, more or less, been through that process with the exception of those guys [Mercedes] last year, so it seems to be part of the game.

“But for sure it’s not great for the people. They want to see the cars and if the cars break before even starting the race that’s not right. But what can I say? It’s a difficult challenge, it is complicated, maybe got a bit too complicated but for now it is what it is.

“The people still enjoy it so we need to do the best to keep it up.”

2015 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2015 Australian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

60 comments on “Hamilton says F1 needs more cars as 15 start first race”

  1. Was just wondering as it could have been, when was the last time a DNF got points?

    1. @xtwl A driver has to be classified (cover more than 90% of the race distance) to score points, so it depends if by ‘DNF’ you mean ‘did not finish enough of the distance to be classified’ or ‘was not running at the chequered flag’. For example at Mekbourne in 2008 when points went down to eighth place Bourdais and Raikkonen were classified seventh and eighth but both had stopped running due to technical problems. There’s probably more recent examples than that one. Over to the F1 Fanatic commenter hive mind…

      1. @keithcollantine Ok, thanks. Couldn’t remember when I last saw it so perhaps it was a more rare feat than I expected.

    2. 2008 Australia where seven drivers finished and one of them was disqualified. Late DNFs Bourdais and Räikkönen were 7th and 8th.

      Some results may show Sergio Perez (10th) as having retired last year’s Japanese Grand Prix but that’s because he was lapped just before the red flag.

  2. Hamilton added he would always try to race in spite of injury if he was able to. “In Moto GP, those guys are pretty hardcore,” he said. “They drive with collarbones broken, ankles and all those kind of things. I would still hopefully drive if I had something damaged.”

    Maybe he has never had back pain. Quite disrespectful towards Bottas imho.

    1. He did use the words “hopefully drive”. That just means he doesn’t know the extent of Bottas’ injury and that he has ever been affected by any injury in his career.

      It doesn’t mean disrespect towards Bottas in any way.

    2. That is his opinion and have seen myself in Moto GP other riders do the same. I myself suffer of back pain but I can take pain killer when necessary.

      I don’t see anything disrespectful here because his talking about himself. No where in that paragraph Bottas is mentioned.

      Anyway, you’re entitled to your opinion.

      1. Agreed. Jorge Lorenzo once was so broken he could not walk they had to lift him onto the bike. 2008 I think. Bit different in F1 to be fair if you crash you are stuck in tight confines not thrown clear so if theres a fire you have to get out. Bottas was not dodging the race he tried the safety tests and failed the decision was not his. Nothing wrong what Hamilton said as he knows if he failed the tests the decision to race is taken out your hands.

    3. I don’t think he was trying to disrespect Bottas. Afaik Bottas was willing and able to safely extricate himself from the car, but was judged to be experiencing so much pain as to cast doubt over whether he was safe to race.

      Furthermore Lewis really is wrong… MotoGP pilots have no difficulty getting off a bike even if they’d broken both legs and their backs

    4. The FIA didn’t let Valterri race due to failing the medical test – it wasn’t really his choice. Most drivers in most series just want to race, which is precisely why the FIA and hospitals impose medical tests on them…

      1. I read the same. They didn´t let him drive because the pain didn´t allow him to get out of the car fast enough…

        Maybe Hamilton didn´t mean wrong, but sometimes is the way he saids things the one that got him into trouble…

        1. @celeste – I read it the other way; it seemed to me that he’s supporting Bottas and not happy with the rules which restrict a driver from competing.

          1. @tribaltalker sorry, my first lenguage is not english and based on my classes I would have to be very subjective to get to the same conclusion than you

          2. @celeste – it always impresses me how many F1 Fanatics don’t have English (UK, US, CAN, AUS, NZ) as their first language, yet cope with a lot of difficult and obscure text. It’s humbling.

    5. Bottas didn’t choose not to drive, he wasn’t allowed by the FIA doctor. If anything it’s a dig at them.

      1. Oops, should have refreshed the page before I posted. Alianora got there first :)

  3. I wish Hamilton would have been more thoughtful or refrained from offering an opinion on Bottas’s injury. Bottas suffered a spinal disc injury and was not allowed to race as he couldn’t complete one of the escape from cockpit tests in the amount of time required. Rather than being macho, Lewis should have showed concern for his colleague as Vettel later did in response to the same question.

    1. I wish @curmudgeon would have been more thoughtful or refrained from offering an opinion on Hamilton’s comment – he’s clearly got his facts wrong. Bottas WAS able to leave the cockpit in the required time, but the medical team felt that he would be unable to repeat the exercise. Considering that the choice was not down to Bottas, but to the medical team, I fail to see how this could have been disrespectful.

      1. F1 remains a blood sport, @fluxsource! Caution is of the utmost concern. So soon all forget #ForzaJules. I feel Hamilton’s comments were wrong.

        1. @curmudegeon F1 is a non-contact sport – pretty much the antithesis of a blood sport. As much as I’m sure we all wish Jules a speedy and complete recovery, I don’t see how he is relevant to this.

          The final part of your post is the only one that makes any sense, yet doesn’t add to the discussion. Is there anything else you want to say on the topic?

    2. It wasn’t disrespectful IMO. He say’s words like try and hopefully. Things that he would do and is alluding that Bottas would do the same, but it is in the eye of the beholder. Words can been be twisted into anything.

      1. I don’t think it takes much word twisting to interpret his remarks as implying that Bottas was probably a wuss for not racing today. Back when Perez had a concussion and missed a race, I remember Davd Coulthard implying something similar about him. It’s part of the whole old school “suck it up and race” mentality that is unlikely to ever die completely. Some will admire Hamilton for it, some will criticize him, and so it goes…

        (In this case, though, there might even be some attempted mind games at work. Who knows?)

        1. Hamiltin is saying he too would try and drive if he had an injury. It was not Botas’s decision not to drive. He wanted to drive but fia said no.
          Read what Hamilton said again in the context of someone wanting to drive but denied by the authorities.

  4. 15 cars is one less than required by agreement with race tracks. It is probably not considered as a contract breach as Bottas was there in qualifications and Manor had both cars almost ready in the garage. But still … It’s quite telling …

    1. The official entry list has 20 cars. That is what would probably be legally used. The people in charge can’t take the blame for 2 cars being DNQ, 1 driver being injured and 2 cars with major mechanical problems before race start.

    2. 18 cars ran during the weekend, which is the figure I understand is used (Manor’s appearance is not, I believe, eligible to be paid out as an “attendence” because of the total lack of running).

  5. What can you even say about this situation that hasn’t already been comprehensively covered already? Ecclestone seems to regard the likes of Caterham and Marussia as inevitable casualties of competition, and an acceptable loss in the interests of him making money for CVC. But the problem is that on days like today, when you have a few retirements, suddenly there’s hardly any cars on track.

    I know some have made the point that the teams shouldn’t be relying on TV and prize money to make up their budgets, but what choice do they have? By ruthlesly going over every aspect of the sport in order to make sure that every possible opportunity to make money for CVC and FOM’s partners is exploited, Ecclestone has made it almost impossible for teams to secure sponsors. What value can a team now give to anything other than a high value title sponsor? What value even is there for them, other than having their name on a car? Teams are prevented from giving out their paddock passes to anyone other than celebs, dignitaries, and ‘glamorous women’, so teams can’t invite their sponsors to come and hang out in the paddock. They can’t allow their sponsors to use images and videos of cars to promote their brands. They can’t offer any banner or board space around the tracks. All the teams are left with is space to put logos on their car. Who would pay tems of millions to put a sticker on an F1 car? Well, the answer is clear – almost nobody. The best the teams can really hope for is the backing of a wealthy philanthropist, and to them it seems that the image of F1 is completely unattractive.

    I also feel that maybe these power units are a step too far, when you consider the restrictions to development. So far four different engine manufacturers – very experienced manufacturers with cutting edge facilities and decades of experience – and only one of those four has managed to create a decent, reliable racing engine which meets the demands of the sport. And with no track testing allowed, and severe restrictions on the changes the manufacturer can make to the design, once the initial power unit is homologated then the teams are stuck with it, no matter how bad it is. What hope have Renault of catching up with Mercedes when they are not allowed to change most of the initial design, and are allowed no more freedom than Mercedes to actually develop the unit? Already we see that Renault has been reduced to powering just two teams – how long is that going to last? How long before Renault are ditched completely and disappear from the sport, thanks to how the rules are written? Is that just another casualty, another acceptable loss from the sport?

    I was very supportive and enthusiastic about these power units, but it just feels like they may be too great a challenge to achieve within a reasonable budget, and within the restrictions set by the FIA. I firmly believe that F1 should be about cutting edge technology, but at the expense of the long term viability of the sport? I have followed F1 for nearly three decades, and I’ve never known a situation as dire as this. I feel like F1 is in its death throes.

    1. @mazdachris Well said. All I can add is that water finds it’s own level ie. I have said and felt all along in these recent years that FIA, FOM, BE, CVC, and big teams would change to try to improve things if their hands are forced, and that they haven’t agreed to much because their hands haven’t truly been forced. So for example would CVC take a certain percentage less out of F1 if the alternative is they get 100% of nothing? Will the bigger teams agree to things they have been resisting all along, if the alternative is no more F1, or at least a massive reduction in following?

      Perhaps after only one race these entities still aren’t concerned, but if the comments around here are any indication of peoples’ general sentiments globally, they should be worried that whatever they have been trying to protect in terms of their own status will be gone without an audience that cares.

      I know it’s not easy, but right now it looks painful.

      1. There’s even more than I’ve mentioned above. On top of that, factor in a rapidly diminishing viewership as you mention, plus decreasing visibility thanks to the sort disappearing behind a paywall in mosot major markets, and ‘promoters’ who do literally nothing to promote their sport and flatly refuse to engage with modern forms of media.

        Contrast this with other top flight motorsports where teams are given far more value for their investment, so that they can keep sponsors happy. Races are promoted online and videos are shared on Youtube so that the sports are kept as visible (and visibly interesting) as possible.

        I don’t think you can reasonably expect teams like Farrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes to simply relinquish their positions of privilege. They are as desperate for money as anyone – their success and survival is thanks to this extra cashflow, and so there is no incentive for them to change things as they stand. If there is to be a change in the interest of fairness and long term viability, it needs to be driven jointly by the FIA and FOM. But the FIA are toothless, and FOM is controlled by a venture capital group intent on maximising profitability, even potentially to the point of killing the golden goose. The only other possibility is that the teams jointly take action with a unified front – either by taking legal action against FOM, or by simply threatening to leave the sport en-masse (as I’ve mentioned before), and potentially revive the concept of a breakaway championship. Ecclestone has been very savvy by using preferential financial terms to divide and conquer the teams. He has successfully destroyed FOTA and set the teams against each other, mitigating the chance of them taking action collectively.

        I don’t see any kind of spontaneous solution unfortunately.

        1. Maybe a crazy idea but… If the top teams are against a budget cap, the answer is getting rid of the top teams. Remove Ferrari, RB, Mercedes and McLaren of the sport and suddenly the whole ‘this sport is too expensive’ problem is solved. If the sport is less expensive, new teams will join and we’ll have a 26 car grid by 2017. Watching Sauber, Lotus, Force India and Williams fighting for the championship would surely be more ingesting than this Mercedes dominance.

          1. Now that’s a good idea! Impossible for 2017, but maybe inevitable for 2020 or so; the rich teams will drive everyone else out until there’s only 3 or 4 of them and we’ll no longer be interested. I’d much rather see a level field with Lotus, Williams, FI, Sauber, manor, Haas, euskadi, caterham, hrt, etc, than Mercedes or red bull or Ferrari taking turns thrashing everyone else for years.

      2. It’s complicated @robbie by the phenomenon that motivation increases as a goal is neared.

        So the closer F1 becomes to perfect, the more we’ll complain about it! Strange but true.

        IMO this theory is borne out by the current situation.

  6. I’d say this is rather unfortunate, but a bit opportunistic. Manor could not run, Bottas was injured and Kvyat and Magnussen’s cars stopped before the grid. These things happen, though it is unfortunate it leaves us with such a small grid. I’d like more cars in F1 anyway, but don’t think a lot of things coming together like today should be cited as a reason.

    1. Were the Manors ever really there to run? I feel like they showed up simply to fulfil their contractual obligations, but didn’t have everything they needed to run those cars, if they were even complete in the first place. We have no evidence that they can even be started up at the moment, let alone qualify for a race. Their lack of running is still a consequence of FOM’s stranglehold on the sport.

  7. Driverless cars? OK……..

  8. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
    15th March 2015, 14:53

    It was an unfortunate series of events that led to only 15 cars taking the grid, one which is highly unlikely to happen again but even with a ‘full’ 20 cars it isn’t going to take much to bring the numbers right down.

  9. Why did’t skyf1 show this? Sounds funny,this was the first interesting thing said in a press room in ages, judging from the transcript.

    1. This was in reference to the post race press conference and the discussion between Rosberg and Vettel.

      1. I know im looking for a video everywhere. Of cause the media is making it out to be much more than it is. Just want to see Hamilton’s face in the middle of it all

  10. Of course more cars are needed. Yesterdays Miami ePrix had 14 drivers with F1 race experience, while in Albert Park only 12 drivers that raced were able to say the same. These are just numbers, but it’s still strange and I don’t think anything similar has happened before.

    With Mercedes looking to continue their domination, I think it will be a very hard year for F1. Viewership will drop more, therefore money from sponsors will be less too and smaller team will suffer most. So third cars looks pretty inevitable, maybe we will even see them this year.

  11. So true…! F1 needs at least 20 cars at the start. In my opinion, best would be to have 22-24 cars.

  12. It is time for the FIA to act.
    They must change only some regulations:
    – allow teams to use more than four engines (six would be perfect);
    – lift restrictions regarding fuel use (more than 100 kg per race, and more than 100 kg per hour);
    – allow teams to develop engines more. Force engine manufacturers demand money less for engines. I am pretty sure they can do that, because Mercedes, Honda, Ferrari, and Renault have tons of money. Its their image of the best car developer, so just let them work better.

    1. @slava The problem with those proposals is that the teams cannot afford more engines & if you tell the manufacturer’s to charge less for them & they start making a loss then there not going to stick around.

      And the fuel restrictions are the whole point of this formula as decided by the engine manufacturer’s. This is what they want, This is what they feel is important to them & what they want to develop there engines to do.

      The engines have been designed around these limitations, If you remove them you need to redesign the whole engines which would increase costs further.

  13. And I’m already looking forward to the insanity that is the Nürburgring 24h where they have 230 cars on the 25km track. Renault Clios mixed with GT3 works teams.

  14. I think people are just over-reacting, Much as they did when the 1st race of 2010 at the longer Bahrain circuit was quite dull. I remember people back then insisting everything was broken & that F1 was dead, Yet 2010 turned out to be quite good.

    Having so few starters was just due to an unfortunate series of events in the lead up to the race. Manor not been ready, Bottas suffering his injury & The 2 cars retiring on there way to the grid which lets not forget is something that has happened in the past (Was it Sepang a few years ago where a Sauber blew up going to the grid?).

    Moving forward we should be back upto 20 cars (107% depending) which is the number of cars we have had for most of the past 20 years & with Haas entering in 2016 we should be back upto 22 (Manor’s new investors seem serious & seem to have good plans so i fully believe they will survive & improve).

    Today wasn’t a great race, But I don’t think it was one of the worst ever (I can remember far, far worse). I also think its wrong to throw doom on everything based on 1 race, Afterall not every race can be great & not every season opener has been that good either.
    There are 19 races to go & plenty likely to happen, Throwing F1 under the bus & dooming the rest of the season based on 1 race is wrong, Lets wait & see what the rest will hold.

    1. Someone finally looking level headed at this! People are jumping on the band wagon while still dissapointed from the race. Give it a day and they will realise its been blown a bit out of proportion

  15. I agree with his comment that F1 needs more cars, I doubt any F1 fan would disagree at all…
    But, what is he willing to give up for it? It’s pretty clear F1 is in dire need of a redistribution of wealth, or use more of it to go round. Is he willing to give up his dominant car? I seriously doubt it, who would be?

    Why are there fewer cars? Because 2 teams couldn’t get to the end of last season financially. 1 of them sort of came back, but at the moment its still opinion wether or not they’ll manage to turn a wheel in 2 weeks time.

    The cracks are more than starting to show, they’re glaringly wide open. Sauber, Lotus and Force India are known to be in serious trouble, what of McLaren? How long can they go on paying Alonso to sit at home waiting for the car to improve without a title sponsor? No wonder there are rumours they’re concentrating more on other areas of their business than F1.

    The WDC should be an ambassador for his sport (IMO) and when he comes up with some ideas I’ll start listening, but for now he’s merely pointing out one of the many problems, which we can all see for ourselves.

    1. @johnnik

      The WDC should be an ambassador for his sport (IMO) and when he comes up with some ideas I’ll start listening, but for now he’s merely pointing out one of the many problems, which we can all see for ourselves.

      I think you’re being unduly harsh on him given how rare it is to hear drivers offer even the slightest criticism of wider issues in F1 beyond racing matters like penalties (with the exception of Mark Webber I suppose). Hamilton’s not in a position to fix it but I see no harm in him pointing out it’s broken. In fact I would say that’s him doing his duty as surely the most famous and powerful driver in F1 today.

      1. as surely the most famous and powerful driver in F1 today

        I suppose you forgot to add “in UK”.

      2. I think other people are more harsh, e.g. the next post suggests Bottas doing physical harm to Hamilton. But I’ll stand by my point that telling us all what we just saw wasn’t particularly insightful.

        Come on, did we really need him to tell us this:-

        it’s a real long way from the last corner to the back of the grid. It used to be a little bit shorter run when there’s more cars.

        did we need to go to the current WDC for that info?

  16. Maybe Bottas should give Hamilton a spinal disc injury and see if he misses a race.

  17. The sport to me is not looking good…..We are heading into a situation where after a few more races, any car except Mercedes powered ones, will not be running on the Friday, as they will be out of engines…and they will probably do minimal setup in free prac 3…..That’s not good for the spectator/viewer….and part of each race is conserving fuel…that’s not racing…..Germany who have given us World |Champions, and a race winning team, cannot decide if they want a GP……..Last year lost a lot of viewers…..from what I saw today this has not been halted….Is there anyone in the sport who could address these problems??

  18. There were “only” 15 cars because two broke on the reconnaissance lap, one was withdrawn because the driver was not fit to take part and two were unable to take part at all because of other problems. The chances of this happening again are extremely low. It’s not like 15 is a small number of competitors anyway, you only need 2 to make a race after all so people please stop overreacting.

  19. I’m always suspicious about these kinds of quotes when you don’t learn about the context in which they are given. I like to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt and that they were slightly set up for a juicy quote by a journalist so it reads more controversial than it truly is.

    That being said Hamilton’s reputation for being less polished in interviews doesn’t do him any favors here. It’s a shame really. He’s one of my favorite drivers, with historic level ability, but every time I see or hear him out of the car he gives the distinct impression of being stuck with an adolescent mindset. Not entirely rare among athletes, but always a little disappointing when it’s a favorite one.

  20. I think some rule tweaks are in place.
    Bottas is out after qualifying and he can’t be replaced.
    How can we solve this? Easy!

    A mandatory 3th driver who needs to drive in at least on FP session every weekend.
    Allow him to replace your race drivers at any point in the race weekend and if it’s after qualifying
    just let him start at the back or in the pits.

    1. Also, you give rookies an opportunity and smaller teams the option to sell a seat.

      1. @solidg Was a bit quick with that last sentence and read it like this:

        Also, you give cookies an opportunity and smaller teams the option to sell a seat.

  21. Yesterday for the first time in all this years watching F1 I had to look for an online free streaming because here in Argentina the races were bought by a new channel that only airs on satellital TV, which is way more expensive than regular cable television where it used to be brodcasted until last year.
    As I been reading in different forums and blogs, this situation is taking place in different countries. Argentina hasn’t been a venue for many years nor it had any drivers since the forgettable Mazzacane, and adding this to the declining popularity of F1 in this country (I don’t think that people here who is not into the sport nowadays know another team other than Ferrari and about drivers, probably some know Alonso and that’s it, the falling in popularity started after the Schumacher era) definitely ends the possibilty of a resurgence of the sport, unless we get a race here in the next years, which seems difficult.
    It seems that the idea of those who are in charge is to close more profitable deals, but which is the cost? I don’t think sponsors will be atracted in putting money into a spectacle which is available to fewer people each year, and less sponsors reduces the posibility of getting new teams involved.

  22. I would say faster cars than more cars.

Comments are closed.